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TRAVELS WITH GARLAND: Mountain Home, Arkansas

Fun Fact: I spent a month or two in Arkansas when I was but a lisping lad of mincing cluelessness. I don’t want to talk about it! But I feel like I should do a full disclosure as to why this surprises me not a bit:

Harps Grocery Store, Mountain Home, Arkansas

The Twitter user it came from is claiming she took it at a Harps Grocery Store in Mountain Home, Arkansas. The blogger who made the above juxtaposition has included the phone number of the store. Perhaps a polite, respectful phone call is in order? Just to get all of this sorted out?

I mean, I’m not saying the store is treating queers like their love is pornographic, but every child knows what’s behind that sign. Dirty. Filthy. Not to be looked at, would make your mother and the baby Jesus cry if you read that, that trash. That love between two men. Gross. Get it away.

Because if they are doing that to young queer children, if they are putting that self-hatred on them that early in their lives, on top of growing up in Mountain Home, Arkansas, then we need to push back. This shit starts far too early in life for us to pretend we can make a nice video about being brave and every broken thing will be healed. That’s not how life works.


  1. Amadi wrote:

    This very well may be a corporate issue, not just an individual store manager, and if it’s not, the mandate to undo this should probably come from corporate HQ, someone with real clout. For that reason, rather than calling the store in Mountain Home, all of us internet denizens can head to, ignore the creepy picture of their recently dead founder on the main page and click “contact us” for an e-mail form to express disgust in writing. (And potentially receive a reply. Should I receive one I’ll be publishing it.)

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 1:30 am | Permalink
  2. Noanodyne wrote:

    Wealthy famous elderly white dude buys a baby, news at 11. Oh, and he’s gay (the dude, not sure about the baby yet). Oh yeah, and he’s being oppressed, the horror, drop everything and write your representatives.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 2:06 am | Permalink
  3. plublesnork wrote:

    Terrible eyesight prevents me from being able to see the image, and as a result, I have absolutely no idea what this post is supposed to be about.

    Could someone please explain?


    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 2:29 am | Permalink
  4. Knightgee wrote:

    I think that was a massive amount of “missing the point” right there, NOANODYNE .

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 3:41 am | Permalink
  5. Mejoff wrote:

    Noanodyne may need a translation in their own style.
    Here goes.

    Magazine containing article about frivilous lifstyle of dull celebrity treated as pornography because he is gay, not-so-subtly suggesting that everything gay is filth.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 5:47 am | Permalink
  6. Kathy wrote:

    With Amandi on this one: it could be a corporate issue. This isn’t even covering up “offensive material” with a “family shield” (wtf?), but I was all set to complain to the manager of a neighborhood books store – which was part of a larger chain — about shelving Bitch, Bust and The Advocate so far out of reach they were just shy of being behind the counter (’cause these magazines are offensive to our delicate midwestern sensibilities, right?), but the store manager told me she had to fight to even get them in the store.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 6:04 am | Permalink
  7. Mejoff wrote:

    Sorry for the double post, but as a point of interest (I know nothing about US magazines) is this a queer lifeltyle magazin which is always treated like this, or a general celebrity crap zine which is having a special one issue pariahdom for daring to put homosexuals on the cover?

    (Or is this purely being done to protect the children from Elton John’s terrifying dead eye’d smile? Because, you know, I could let them off if so.)

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 6:15 am | Permalink
  8. Ashley wrote:

    Here’s their facebook page:

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 8:11 am | Permalink
  9. Dani Alexis wrote:

    I’d like to see these “Family Shield” things say why they’re *really* there. “Family Shield. To protect you from the minute possibility you’ll have to face your own homophobia if your small child asks, “Mommy, why does that baby have two daddies?””

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink
  10. RobynS wrote:

    @MEJOFF: No, this is just a basic celebrity magazine that covers stars’ weight loss and frequently has covers with celebrities who have recently had children (like this photo of Elton, David Furnish, and their new baby). This is a very standard cover for them, with the only difference being that there are two men on the cover.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  11. Garland wrote:

    @Noanodyne Yes, of course! Rich, white, cis men dominate the queer discourse, so it’s best to treat all calls for push back against queer oppression as if they were coming from a man in a top hat lighting a cigar with a copy of Action Comics #1.

    Never mind that my primary concern is the affect it will have on the children that will see the shield, not the rich, white dudes it is covering up which are doing fairly well for themselves, I assume, and don’t need me tilting at windmills in their defense.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink
  12. Amnesia wrote:

    I could have used a ‘Family Shield’ for this one incredibly disturbing and tasteless ‘Rolling Stones’ cover a little while back. Made me nauseous every time I saw it.

    But please, how could the viewing of grotesque and triggering representations of heterosexuality cause any harm? Gay people with kids, now that’s a problem.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:08 am | Permalink
  13. Lu wrote:

    Plublesnork, it’s a full picture of the recent US magazine cover w/ Elton John, his partner, and their baby, juxtaposed with the subject of the post, which is that same magazine cover on a rack in a supermarket, but in the second picture, the supermarket has put a shield over the magazine cover. That shield reads, “Family Shield. To protect young Harps shoppers.”

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:38 am | Permalink
  14. Lu wrote:

    sorry about my blahbity-blah syntax there.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 10:39 am | Permalink
  15. Ashley wrote:

    wow. they had a twitter – @harpsfoodprod – but it has now been deleted.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink
  16. Ashley wrote:

    never mind – it’s @harpsfoodsprod

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink
  17. a.b. wrote:

    Oh, Mountain Home, AR. I lived there for two years, right around the time a young black girl went on a well-known talk show to talk about how shitty she was treated there. Thank goodness my dad got transferred– to another awful all-white Arkansan town!

    Blergh. I am not surprised at the picture, and I will give Harps a piece of my mind. I am curious to see if the Harps where I am now has the same thing, but I never see any of those “protective” sheets over things at the store in Fayetteville.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink
  18. Ashley wrote:

    they ARE deleting comments from the facebook page now.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink
  19. plublesnork wrote:

    Thanks, Lu, much appreciated.

    I’m glad I live in a part of the world where if I asked for this, I’d fear being laughed at and ridiculed for being a prude/bigot with outdated ideas, and at the very least being told: “No.”

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  20. Becca wrote:

    Gah. They’re really on the ball with the comment deleting on Facebook.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink
  21. Ashley wrote:

    they’ve posted a statement/apology:

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink
  22. Lu wrote:

    You’re welcome, Plublesnork.

    Congrats to everyone who helped prod the store into reversing its decision!

    Off-topic, around this time of year I always get so annoyed that no one is allowed to say “Super Bowl” in commercials for anything but the Super Bowl. I get the copyright issue, but seriously, does everyone have to be forced to bow down to the Super Bowl? Why isn’t anyone crying censorship in this case? It would make as much sense as–no, more than–people crying censorship over basic requests to stop being a verbal bully and whatnot.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Permalink
  23. Lu wrote:

    Oh, wait a minute, I didn’t give the explanation for why I went off on that rant. It’s because there is another prominent posting on the Harps site titled “The Big Game,” which of course is the preferred codename for “Super Bowl” when stores want to refer to it.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink
  24. oscuro wrote:

    I’m pretty sure that the right-hand image is photoshopped. The text doesn’t line up with the edges of the plastic shield (check the alignment of the top of the shield with the baseline of the text) and the color of the text is too pure and uniform a white to seem like a real-world, in-context photograph. I do not doubt FOR A SECOND that something like this could be true, but this particular example seems to be bogus.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink
  25. jules wrote:

    There was recently a discussion of this in some completely unrelated livejournal community — apparently there are many conservative “family” stores that use this sort of “family shield” on everything BUT magazines like “Good Housekeeping.”

    So MOST LIKELY, “Us” is always covered, even when straight people are on it — because there might be mostly-naked ladies, or discussion of sex or abortions, or who-knows-what horrible un-family like stuff.

    And it would definitely be a corporate issue, not a local store.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Permalink
  26. jules wrote:

    Lu: “Super Bowl” is a copyrighted/trademarked term that stores are literally not allowed to use, lest they be sued by the NFL. q

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Permalink
  27. kb wrote:

    @Oscuro, Jules
    If you read the apology on the store website, you will find that (1) this is not a bogus/photoshopped claim, (2) the shield was put in place after complaints from customers (i.e. US is not always covered), and (3) this was the only store that did it, and corporate HQ told them to knock it off (it was a local store issue)

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Permalink
  28. qwerty wrote:

    KB’s right,it was done after sme customers complained. Shit like that takes away my will to live

    Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 12:43 am | Permalink
  29. Mejoff wrote:

    The only thing in the image that looks like it might have been ‘shopped is the text, which, if it was added, only serves to explain exactly what is going on in the picture, which is genuine.

    Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 4:11 am | Permalink
  30. Satchel wrote:

    I’d like to see the cover of US shielded every time they do body-shaming, which is about every other issue. Much more damaging than a happy couple with a new baby.

    Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink
  31. oscuro wrote:

    My apologies to everyone for not being clear, I actually WAS only talking about the text. The grey plastic is really there, and the analysis and commentary on this situation are more than valid. I’m sorry to anybody who thought I was calling the whole incident false, I was not.
    @ MEJOFF: I’m sure that’s WHY the text was added, but a caption that wasn’t trying to appear genuinely part of the image would have been better and more honest. Embellishments for effect can be dangerous; doing it this way gives people who would want to dismiss this incident a starting point for doing so, especially since those specific words covering up something so innocuous (to at least moderately sensible people, anyway) feels at least a little ‘over the top,’ like seeing the thought-balloon over some hetero-hegemon overlord as he twirls his moustache and cackles maniacally (he’s an 18th level wizard, but won’t use Prismatic Sphere because rainbows are gay). The fact that this text could possibly be true is evidence of how childish the conservative right really is.
    I agree that the text is perfectly in line with the ‘truthiness’ of the situation–but trying to trick people isn’t really a great move, even if you’re only tricking them with the truth.

    Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 10:46 am | Permalink
  32. Lu wrote:

    Jules, I know that; I said so. My point, which I also made in print there, was something else.

    Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 11:39 am | Permalink
  33. Lety wrote:

    What bothers me the most is how heavily photoshopped Elton John’s face is. Look at that unnatural babyface. And David’s monochromatic orange face. I hate you, Us magazine! I hate youuuuu!

    Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  34. Brennan wrote:

    @ oscuro,
    I think I see what you mean about the text, but I disagree. The shield is at an angle which distorts the lines just a little and that, combined with the weird lines running across it from the rack, makes it look like it’s more skewed than it actually is. If you look at the shadows from the rack, they continue into the text, and while you could definitely do that with photoshop, it seems like a lot of effort for very little reward. As for the color, a lot of cameras will auto-adjust the contrast, so to look perfectly white it only had to be slightly whiter than the magazines around it. I’m no expert, but I don’t think we can dismiss the image so easily.

    Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink
  35. Evalyn wrote:

    plublesnork: I’m glad I live in a part of the world where if I asked for this, I’d fear being laughed at and ridiculed for being a prude/bigot with outdated ideas, and at the very least being told: “No.”

    Clearly not a West Aussie, then. 😛

    Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 9:08 pm | Permalink
  36. Jane Smith wrote:

    Harps not only believes in censorship in their stores (using the family shield covers to “protect young shoppers” against Elton John and his gay partner and their new baby) but also of censorship their social media. Since my previous comments were deleted by the Facebook admin, I’m reposting my comments here.

    Unfortunately to give feedback directly to Harps regarding their discriminatory practices, you have to like them.

    Before Harps spends marketing and PR resources working on their slogan and mascot, perhaps they should address their censorship policies.

    “Both our employees and our customers come in all shapes and sizes, beliefs and preferences. Harps has never and would never discriminate. We are sorry that these events caused misunderstandings.”

    Clearly Harps has discriminated.

    Harps also noted: “When this was brought to our management’s attention, the decision was changed and the magazine was uncovered.”


    What will you do with the family shield covers now? Will you get rid of them?

    If not, then …
    – Under what circumstances can the family shield covers be used?
    – How “young” are the consumers you are protecting?
    – How do you define “sexually provocative” or “too revealing”?
    – What other issues will you continue to “protect” shoppers from?

    Consumers have the right to know your policies.

    Friday, January 28, 2011 at 7:54 pm | Permalink
  37. isa wrote:

    even small things can make life difficult for queer youth–i know this personally. i come from a very supportive and accepting family and just because of one incidence where my mother said “i hope you aren’t gay” i was terrified to admit even to myself that i was queer, until age 16 or so. now, at 23 i have only come out to a very few people.

    i found out later that when my mum said that she did not mean it; she was making a sarcastic commentary about homophobia, and she thought i would get it because i was always a very clever kid. and if she’d said it another time i would have understood, or challenged her, but at the time i was just too to insecure to understand. not my fault; she should have thought before she said it, but still.

    my point is that tiny things can have a huge impact on kids. huge.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 3:26 am | Permalink